Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the main man again as Arsenal beat Liverpool in Community Shield

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - MATCH INFO

Arsenal 1 (Aubameyang 12’) Liverpool 1 (Minamino 73’)

Arsenal win 5-4 on penalties

Man of the Match: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal)


 

MATCH INFO

Arsenal 1 (Aubameyang 12’) Liverpool 1 (Minamino 73’)

Arsenal win 5-4 on penalties

Man of the Match: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal)


 

For Arsenal, one season began as the last ended. The second trophy of Mikel Arteta’s brief reign brought more celebrations at Wembley and came courtesy of another display of superb finishing by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. After a spectacular opener came the decisive spot kick in a penalty shootout.

The Community Shield’s importance can be disputed, especially when teams have had so little time to prepare, but there should be little doubt that Arteta’s ability to conjure wins over top teams is hugely encouraging for Arsenal.

For the second time in as many months, they overcame Liverpool. For the second successive year, Jurgen Klopp’s side lost this competition after a penalty shootout.

Last August, Gini Wijnaldum missed. This time, Rhian Brewster came on for the Dutchman with seconds to go, purely to take a penalty, but clipped the bar with his spot kick.

Liverpool had been the better team in the second half, when Takumi Minamino levelled, but Arsenal were superior before then, defended in a way to show Arteta’s organisational prowess and held their nerve when Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cedric Soares, David Luiz and Aubameyang all scored from 12 yards.

Arsenal finished 43 points behind Liverpool last season and an assured, determined display suggested the gap will be altogether smaller this time around. Arteta has overseen a number of fine performances against the top teams and this was another illustration of their ability to raise their game versus the best.

Arsenal were incisive before the break and Arteta again found a way to unlock an elite defence with a move that began with passing the ball out of their own penalty box. It helps that he has a finisher of Aubameyang’s class, and his goal was reminiscent of Thierry Henry.

He paid tribute to the late actor Chadwick Boseman in his celebration after his golden run at Wembley continued. Following doubles in the FA Cup semi-final and final came arguably the best strike of the lot.

Accepting a cross-field pass from Bukayo Saka, he veered in off the left flank and whipped an unstoppable shot into the far corner of Alisson’s net.

Saka was wearing Arsenal’s No 7 shirt for the first time in competitive football. He already looks a worthy inheritor of a number donned by Robert Pires and Alexis Sanchez in the past.

His precocity is apparent in his passing. He guided one ball into Eddie Nketiah’s path when the striker could have doubled the lead. Alisson made a fine save to tip his shot wide. He was the supplier again when Nketiah fired over.

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Gallery: Arsenal win FA Cup final

Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang kisses the FA Cup after the 2-1 win over Chelsea. AFP

Arsenal players react after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drops the FA Cup during the celebrations. Getty

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) and coach Mikel Arteta hold the winner's trophy. AFP

Mikel Arteta holds the FA Cip aloft. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium in north London. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium in north London. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium in north London. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium. AFP

Arsenal fans and a lone Chelsea supporter outside the Emirates stadium. AFP

Arsenal's head coach Mikel Arteta poses with Dani Ceballos, right, and Eddie Nketiah. AP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium. AFP

Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium in north London. AFP

Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta celebrates victory. AFP

Arsenal's goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez wears an "Always Forward" shirt at the end of the FA Cup final. AP

Arsenal players pose after the FA Cup final. AP

Mikel Arteta with the FA Cup at Wembley. AFP

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge watches the FA Cup final with former Arsenal player Tony Adams at the Sandringham Estate. Getty

The FA Cup sits in the pitch surrounded by Arsenal players. Getty

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, centre, and teammates pose with the FA Cup. AP

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Briefly, it felt as though Liverpool had struck first. They had the ball in the net after six minutes when an offside Virgil van Dijk volleyed in Andrew Robertson’s free kick.

It was the first of a string of enticing crosses Robertson developed and while Liverpool have brought in a deputy, in Kostas Tsimikas, this was a sign the Scot will rise to the competition.

On the other flank, Neco Williams was isolated against Aubameyang when the Arsenal captain scored and, while more seasoned defenders have struggled against a forward of his class, it amounted to a tough afternoon.

Klopp ended up moving the speedier Joe Gomez to right-back, in the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold. But if it was a reminder Williams is a rookie, a player who only made his senior debut 10 months ago almost added a Wembley assist to his CV with a cross that James Milner headed over the bar.

A minute later, Liverpool were behind. They improved as the game went on, perhaps as they had more time to prepare. It was only four weeks after Arsenal won the FA Cup and seven days after they returned to training. Perhaps it was unsurprising they tired. They were camped in their own half when Liverpool levelled, despite plenty of Arsenal bodies in their box.

The ball bounced off Cedric and Mohamed Salah, with Arsenal thinking it hit the Egyptian’s arm. It fell to Minamino to score a belated first goal since his January move from RB Salzburg. His has been a stop-start Liverpool career but their decision not to pursue Timo Werner could afford the Japanese more opportunities.

Before then, Roberto Firmino came close to an equaliser with an effort from 20 yards. Emi Martinez made his first of two terrific saves from Sadio Mane, justifying Arteta’s decision to select him ahead of a fit-again Bernd Leno.

Joe Willock could have won it with a header from Cedric’s cross. Instead, Aubameyang assumed his familiar role as match-winner.

Updated: August 29, 2020 10:01 PM

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